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Friday, December 18, 2009


Following this link from Homemakers Who Work? Sorry-I have a sick kid today--I will write a nice (maybe naughty) post this afternoon! Check back soon. Kris

This week I received an e-mail from my state professional association, it was a copy of an email sent to MY state legislators informing them that WI veterinarians are against the raw milk bill. What? When did I say that? Did I miss some poll? The e-mail got me going for several reasons. I am FOR raw milk; at least give us, the unthinking masses the chance to choose. I am also paying association dues to be misrepresented. The WVMA (and national AVMA) is also very much for NAIS--another topic you do not want to get me started on! The threshold has been broken-I am ticked, these blog rants are a way for me to blow off a little steam before I settle down and write a good logical, professional(but still mad) letter to the WVMA.

Wisconsin is agriculture. In fact the county in which I live used to be known for having more Holsteins than humans! Due to historically low milk prices (something on the order of $0.84/gallon) to the farmer-they are bleeding red ink this year. A combination of declining milk exports and high prices for feed have created an estimated 'average' loss of $47 per cow each month. Farms are going out of business (which by the way does not mean less milk produced-someone buys and milks those cows), which means people loosing their livelihoods, their retirement equity, and in most cases their homes. Farmers are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

The whole and local food movement has created a demand for raw unprocessed milk. Dairymen who sell milk fresh from the farm can make $4-7 per gallon, a living wage-unfortunately this is illegal in WI. The bill in front of the State would allow class A dairies to apply for a raw milk permit and legally sell unprocessed-straight from the cow milk, without being held liable for possible damages-unless obviously negligent. Bonus-they can pay their mortgage, pay their bills, and have something left over for retirement.

Yes, you can get sick from raw milk. It's going to happen. Listeria, brucella, e. Coli, Q fever-there are all sorts of nasties which can live and multiply in milk. But wouldn't you rather have permitted farms selling milk or black-market, under the table sales? To have a raw permit-the dairies should have scheduled bulk tank sampling and cultures, a Johne's negative herd. It is a win-win situation. People get the product they want, the state gets permit revenues, the farmer gets a financially viable business ( and oh yeah large animal DVM's have increased revenue from the additional testing as well as farmer who can actually pay their bills each month!)

The milk safety issue is an interesting one. There is the acute illness we can see and measure when there is a local outbreak of gastrointestinal disease, this is (relatively) easy to lay blame on contaminated milk (or peanut butter or spinach). But what about the chronic health problems which lead from a life-time of eating processed, dead foods? There is no way to measure something like that. As a person of Northern European descent, I believe my body is more capable of dealing with the occasional bacterium in a traditional food like whole milk than in highly processed dead food. I trust eons of natural selection and symbiosis over 100 years of 'progress'. Which is the safer food? Food scientists are really smart and we have come a long way, but I don't think we have come close to understanding the subtlety and complexity of nutrition.

Come on Wisconsin-at least pretend you care about your farmers more than you cater to agribusiness.

Some links to look at for more info


Country Girl said...

Regarding the greenhouse. The thickness of the greenhouse plastic is 6 mil
We too are curious as to how well it will hold up. Grow...not sure tomatoes, garlic, maybe carrots. We will see. It will be experimental.
Hope your kiddo is better real soon!

Conny said...

Right on! I'm right behind you on this issue (and that of NAIS too). You chose provided some really good links for those interested in learning more. In California raw milk sales are still legal, but we almost lost that right. In Calif. there are two raw milk standards - one for processing and one for sales directly to the public. If you need more fuel for your case, I can locate the podcast links I listened to for Raw Milk and/or NAIS.

Pulling up my soapbox aside yours ~ Conny

Anonymous said...

I like your post. As I said on HHW, you have great information and present why you made the decisions you did/feel the way you do without pushing those views on others.

I think that the raw milk thing is one of the most personal, and it shouldn't be forced. There are definite risks, but many up-sides too. A lot depends on the details in my view. Did the consumer see the milk being milked (or know it was done a few hours before)? What kind of relationship is there with the farmer? How is the sanitation issue handled on both the consumer and producer ends, and how much can one be sure of what the other is doing? Who will be drinking the milk (i.e. any people with weakened immune systems, young/old people, etc.)? These details vary widely, and can prove telling.

Like you, I think that consumers should be given choices. Lots of information, ways to ensure that the message gets through and is understood, but then the ultimate choice. We get raw milk in CT, but it has to be sold/bought at the farm itself. I'd hate to see that choice taken away from consumers.

My mother's family had raw milk when she was growing up - often seeing it milked before their eyes, and having a relationship with the farmer. They had no problems, but I know that is no guarantee for others. It can work though.

hickchick said...

Conny -thanks for the offer I don't think adding any more fuel would be a wise idea right now!

Mango-glad I could be of service!